U.S., Cuba hold talks over jailed American subcontractor Gross

The Miami HeraldOctober 19, 2010 

The Obama administration's top diplomat on Latin America has met with Cuba's foreign minister to press for the release of a U.S. citizen jailed in Havana since December -- the latest in a recent string of high-level bilateral sessions.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Arturo Valenzuela and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez met in New York during a U.N. gathering last month, the State Department's top spokesman said Monday.

The previously unknown session was the most recent in a string of meetings between officials of the two countries, which have not had full diplomatic relations since the early 1960s.

``The meeting was to encourage the release of Alan Gross,'' Philip J. Crowley, assistant secretary for public affairs, told reporters during a briefing in Washington.

Asked if Havana gave any sign that Gross would be freed, Crowley said, ``I'm not aware that they did.''

He added: ``We would hope that it would happen today, but that's up to the Cuban government.''

Crowley gave no further details but a senior State Department official told The Associated Press the meeting was brief and cordial and added that there were no significant discussions on other matters.

Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was arrested Dec. 3 after delivering satellite communications equipment to what U.S. officials describe as Jewish groups in Cuba.

A resident of Potomac, Md., the 60-year-old Gross has not been officially charged, though several Cuban officials have alleged that he was involved in U.S. intelligence activities against Cuba.

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